July 19, 2015

A View on the Automotive Aftermarket

Mobile Apps for the Aftermarket?

One of the biggest challenges that has faced the automotive aftermarket has been how to rapidly bring new technologies into the industry. The sheer quantity of parts and diagnostic data, the battles around how to standardize that data and the complexity of the business processes have all been compounded by the fragmented nature of the industry. The net result has been an almost exclusive focus on internal issues between the various actors (manufacturers, distributors and service providers) battling for margin and market share with a zero sum perspective. For many, technology has been seen only as a point of control and a cost to be avoided.

In the big wide world outside of our industry, we have seen the unstoppable march of the mobile app into our personal and business lives bringing us functionality and content to our finger tips wherever we may be – no longer tethered to our desktops and laptops. However, for many of the reasons outlined above we have not seen much of this new technology in the automotive aftermarket.

There are those who are taking up the challenge; one such company is SHIFTMobility out of San Francisco. Some former Oracle “Big Data” folks from outside the aftermarket have developed a family of mobile apps that plug Manufactures, Distributors and Service providers together allowing them to share data and transact products. For Repair Shops, the App is designed to speed up the process for service writers, technicians and customers by providing customer and vehicle check-in, diagnostics, estimating, real time parts ordering and invoicing all on your Android or Apple device.

Personally, I applaud anything that brings new technology and a “rising tide” approach – if nothing else I think our customers will appreciate it.

-Mark Street, former CFO of Meineke Car Care Centers, Inc.